On the first of May, I woke up and thought “Yay! It’s May!!! Oh! That means it’s almost Mother’s Day… Oh, no! Oh, yay!” My thoughts drifted.
First thought: What can I ever do for or give to my own mother that would come close to showing her how loved, admired, and appreciated she is… I mean aside from having my own kids, trying to raise them with similar values, and making sure they see/talk and share their cuteness with her regularly. (Best gift, ever, right?)
Then: I mused over whether my hubby has even given a thought to Mother’s Day. Hoping he talks to the kids and they settle on doing something that is simple, sweet, and from the heart. I’m a simple girl. I love my family, books, food, and time with family, and time with books. How am I doing with my hints here? (By the way, my hubby is awesome and gives me awesome gifts that I don’t deserve or know I want… but life has been pretty nonstop these days.)
And then: Oh, man I need to actually put into a blog post all of the thoughts I’ve been mulling over about which books are the best celebrations of mothers and motherhood.
Some will make you laugh. Some will make you cry. Some will make you want to hug your little one fiercely and never let go. And to be honest, some of the book titles or covers might not convince you at first, but somehow they’ll appeal to your child. Then your child will play that fancy little trick of looking into your eyes and changing your mind in a heartbeat. Damn little wizards!
So, if you are a parent, caregiver, educator, or anybody else looking for books to celebrate mother figures and motherhood (at this or any time of the year), look no more! Well, actually just look below. To help you navigate the list, I’ve characterized the books based on what you might be looking for, whether you realized it or not. Enjoy!
If you or your little ones love sparkly, magical, rainbow-filled, unicorn-type things: My Mom Is Magical by Sabrina Moyle
I didn’t realize I was part of this “If” group until my 2 year old daughter saw this book in the store and grabbed it. We read through it together, and even my almost 4 year old boy thought it was special. I bought it, of course. I said I wasn’t going to buy books that day, but I bought it anyway. Darn those dimples and sparkly eyes. Wizards and their tricks, right?
For reading with babies of all ages, especially emergent readers with a sense of humor: Everything is Mama by Jimmy Fallon
Sweet giggles and belly laughs guaranteed. And if that isn’t enough to convince you, the icing on top is that your emergent reader will be able to re-read it completely independently after just one read with you. For us, this book scored extra points by including a crocodile mom and baby. It’s got sloths and other cute animals too. Must read in different voices!
If you like the classics: ALL of these can be found in Spanish too!
The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown is sweet, whimsical, and pushes kids to use their imagination. But ultimately, the story demonstrates the powerful love and protectiveness of a mother.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter is about the natural consequences of mischief and disobedience, but if you simplify it to just the relationship between Peter and his mommy, it can spark wonderful thoughts and conversations with your little ones about how mothers (most of the time) know what’s best for you, but will still love and take care of you when you make mistakes.
Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman is another classic that is a delight to read to children of all backgrounds and ages. Little kids love the animals, and the simplicity of the sometimes patterned text. Even 1 and 2 year olds will begin reading along with you after a few reads. Plus, there is nothing cuter than a toddler saying “mudder”.
For animal lovers everywhere:
Quiero a mi mama porque…/I Love My Mommy Because… by Laurel Porter-Gaylord illustrates the many things mothers do and why we love them so through adorable pictures of animals and their babies. The text is in English and Spanish, plus each page includes the name of each animal and their young. Babies will enjoy the illustrations and preschoolers will love learning the nuances of animal baby names. And it has crocodiles!
Does a Kangaroo have a Mother, Too? by Eric Carle is another wonderful depiction of motherly love as demonstrated all over the animal kingdom. Carle’s collage illustrations showcase some of children’s most loved animals like kangaroos, elephants, and dolphins. The book includes a list of terms for animal fathers, mothers, and offspring for each type of animal in the book. Available in Spanish too!
Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino features more animals and their babies, but with humorous rhyme that makes the story extra interactive as children yell out the proper animal name. Available in Spanish too, with rhymes that are just as cute and funny when translated!
For the littlest of readers/snugglers, great books for newborns (and up of course!):
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox is truly a celebration of babies and those sweet little fingers and toes we all love, but also a mother’s love. With simple and adorable illustrations of diverse babies and simple text, it is simply perfect for every child from 0-5! And its available in Spanish!
Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton is short, sweet, and simple. And you can sing it! So, grab this book for babies, but don’t be surprised if older children love it as much. Its one they will want to read again and again until they start reciting it to you perfectly! And don’t forget to check out the song, which you can find on Spotify or AppleMusic. Snuggles will ensue!
If you want to feel all warm, tingly, mushy/gushy, and simultaneously happy/sad:
The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson is just so sweet and so sad at the same time, best for children 3 and up. Children will love the story of the paper dolls avoiding their demise from a crocodile (oven mitt), tiger (slippers), and dinosaur toy. Donaldson aptly portrays how play should be full of imagination and silliness, but also the reality of our childhood fading into memory. Don’t miss the chance to teach your little one how to make paper dolls.
Someday by Alison McGhee is, hands down, my favorite book to give at baby showers. It is sweet and tender, and anybody who is a parent, dreams of being a parent, or simply loves their own parent will turn to mush reading it. Plus who doesn’t LOVE Peter Reynolds’ illustrations? This one is good enough to read with children of any age, and will yield some special conversations and reflections about the love of a parent.
You Are My I Love You by Maryann Cusimano Love had to be on this list because its a book my parents gave me and my sisters just this past Christmas. I love that they gave us a children’s book, because of course nobody is ever too old for a good children’s book. The best ones resonate with hearts of all ages. You Are My I Love You uses rhyme and playful illustrations to capture the ups, downs, and nuances of the parent/child relationship.
That’s Me Loving You by Amy Krouse Rosenthal is another win for Rosenthal and the genre of “aw” books to read between parent and child. Whether you are leaving your child at school for the first time or missing a parent who lives far away or has passed, the text will resonate with you. I reread it with the kids when my father-in-law passed away, which was both a good and bad idea, as it took the meaning to a whole different level.
Good, now I have at least completed one of my previous 3 thoughts… the book list that was growing in my head for some time now. Hope you’ll enjoy these books as much as my family and I do!
And as I’m sure you can tell, I am afflicted with an immense love for books, especially children’s books. So feel free to share some of your favorite titles for celebrating mommas and motherhood, and let my book wish list grow. Happy reading!